Kevin Knoefel sentenced to serve life in prison in wife's murder plot

MENTOR, Ohio - NOTE: The first video above contains some profanity.

In a heated hearing, a Lake County man was sentenced to serve life in prison plus 12 years after he was convicted of plotting with his foster daughter to kill his wife.

Kevin Knoefel was convicted of plotting to kill his wife after having sex with Sabrina Zunich, the couple's foster daughter.

Knoefel was convicted on all counts by a jury: three counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, two counts of complicity to commit aggravated murder and six counts of sexual battery. He will be eligible for parole after 30 years. His defense attorney said Aug. 6 that he plans to appeal.

MORE: Sabrina Zunich charged with conspiring with foster dad in murder of foster mom Lisa Knoefel

Lisa Knoefel's first husband, Nicholas Zanella, spoke directly to Kevin Knoefel during the hearing, words that Knoefel's defense attorney Michael Connick objected to several times. 

"You are a weak individual, someone who thought they could be a man in a man's world ...There are two girls that go through pain every day because of him."

He turned to Knoefel. "And you thought that you could do some heinous act that would take someone's life away from two little girls ... I hope you rot in jail the rest of your life," he told Kevin Knoefel.

During the hearing, Knoefel's defense attorney Michael Connick asserted that the jury had made the wrong decision, and that a flawed foster system was to blame for Zunich killing her foster mother.

"Mr. Knoefel maintains his innocence," Connick said, "and for the state to suggest that Sabrina Zunich is a victim in this case is as absurd as the jury verdict."

Lake County Common Pleas Judge Joe Gibson took issue with those statements and heatedly told the attorney that he was in the wrong. "Certainly (the jury verdict) is not something that you concur with or you agree with, but to say the efforts of those 12 people is absurd, I take great offense to."

He continued, "I must comment on this veiled insinuation that the reason we're here is because of the actions of the good public servants who work every single day to try to help young people who are lost in this society in which we live, who struggle every day to try to help those individuals, who struggle and who work diligently, underpaid, overworked, under appreciated ... And I take great offense to that comment. I realize that's not why we're here, but since you put it on the record and you put brought issue before the public I think it needs to be soundly pointed out that it is just simply wrong."

"I'm going to respond to each of your comments," the attorney said, and Giboson intercepted: "No, you're not going to respond, Mr. Connick, because I gave you an opportunity to speak, and you spoke. Now it's my opportunity to speak."

"Well, Your Honor, you can't call me out on the record without giving me an opportunity to respond," Connick said.

Gibson replied, "Mr. Connick, watch me."

As the judge spoke, Zanella appeared to say something to Connick, who said, "Excuse me, Mr. Zanella just told-said 'expletive] you' to me, Your Honor."

A few moments later, Gibson asked Zanella to leave the courtroom.

After the hearing, Connick was asked why he called Kevin Knoefel a victim. "His wife was murdered by Sabrina Zunich and he had no participation in the conspiracy or anything else. What would that make him?"

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